I just pulled apart the cheapo squier strat i bought for 4 bucks, to switch over to an HSS setup i had laying around.
now, i understand, 2 tones on most guitars = 1 for one pickup, and one for another. But the way the strat is wired just changes which tone is used when you change switch positions. you could essentially just run one tone off the main common pin and have the exact same thing except you would have tone for the bridge.
now if you really want in unimpeded bridge to output, all they had to do was run a jumper from pins 1-2 on the second pole set on the switch and youd have the exact same functionality as a normal strat but with only one tone....

does anyone else find this odd? am i missing something here?
its kind of a waste of space it seems like
Nope, that's pretty much it.

It's useful for getting unique tones in the 2 and 4 positions.
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.

Fender MIM Stratocaster
Fender Jaguar Bass
Epiphone EJ200 Super Jumbo
Fender Excelsior 13w
Acoustic B300HD (with matching 1x12 cab)
NYC Big Muff Pi
but in the 2nd position and the 4th position, both tones are hooked up to the same place, so they do the same thing, turning one down makes the same sound as turning the other down, theyre both attached as master tones, not individual
Actually, most american strats have the tone wired to the bridge pup now. on the american specials they call it the greasebucket? and on the standard its the no load control or something like that.

An, how do you buy a squier strat for $4??
I usually just wire it so there is one master tone and one master volume, which leaves an extra spot for anything I want (a switch for example). I never really used the two tone knobs seperately.
i had a ngd thread about the $4 squier

got it at a garage sale, "didnt work". the kid had taken it apart and painted it, then didnt know how to hook the wires up. i pulled the pickguard off and the output jack wires were just sitting there

and actually today i took the old wiring apart and threw on an HSS setup i had laying around with different pots and pups and stuff. looks a lot better now, havent tested the sound out though =p
You could have one tone for both the neck and middle, and the other for the bridge. Thats what i did. Its great for an hss setup because the bridge humbucker needs its own tone, and it only makes sense that the single coils share a tone knob.
I have no idea. My HSS Strat is wired with volume, master bass cut, and master treble cut. Makes a good deal more sense IMO.
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Another factor that has grown this myth is a bunch of opinionated guys who really don't know what they're talking about, which to be brutally honest is a bunch of you guys on here.
im trying to think how that would work. if you wire the tone for the bridge directly to the bridge lead at the switch, then in position 4 both tones would be like master tones, and then in bridge position the second tone would essentially be a master tone, so it wouldnt be any different...

i cant think of any way to isolate the tones like that, no matter what the leads end up together in position 4, which means that turning one down will pull from both. now ive just confused myself. haha
There's a bunch of ways they can be wired.

Neck tone, middle tone
Neck & middle tone, bridge tone
Neck tone, middle & bridge tone
neck tone, bridge tone

Those are the most common ones.

Some people also use the third control for active EQ controls. So you have master volume, master tone and then a SPC or RPS or EXG or Clapton boost or whatever.
it actually sorta makes sense the original way leo meant for it to be used- he meant the middle pickup to be used the way you would normally use a bridge pickup, and then the bridge pickup was to be used when you needed maximum twang/treble. the lack of the tone knob makes it slightly more trebly/twangy than if there's a tone knob there.

But yeah for more modern uses, I'd prefer either a master tone, or maybe one tone knob linked up to the middle and neck pickups together, and the other for the bridge (as the bridge pickup is more likely to need the tone to be rolled off slightly, whereas the neck and middle are normally good with the tone on 10).
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I modded my strat so the tone knob controls the bridge pup instead of the middle pup and it works great.
Guitars: Fender FSR Standard Strat, Squire Affinity Strat, Epiphone Nighthawk
Amps: Vox AC15C1, Roland Cube 15x, Peavey KB-1
Pedals: Digitech RP355, HD500, Joyo AC-Tone, EHX Soul Food
i guess what gets me is that all you ever have on a strat is a master tone. all you can change is which positions the tones work in. but in every position that HAS a tone, its a master tone. so why two? theres no point at all.
for strats being about the most common and sought after guitar there is, i find it weird that they wasted space like this for so many years, and also that they put the volume knob in the worst possible place...

it makes sense that a lot of people are changing that one tone, i guess the one nice thing about it is strats come with that extra predrilled hole ready to go!
ive never modded a guitar by adding onboard effects. i saw that list above, what are your favorite ones?
i know i know, ill do a search also =p